Sectioned .303 Tracer bullet

Below is a photo of a .303 Tracer (I think G Mk V) bullet I sectioned today. The photo doesn’t do it justice, it came out ALOT better than it appears. I was impressed with it for a first try. I won’t go into how I did it. All I will say is the projectile was already pretty messed up on the outside, so I thought “why not?”.

Specs are: CN Jacket, lead core at front, copper tracer cup, held in place with copper plated brass disc. Single outer cannelure with vertical knurling marks.

I did check up first that this type of tracer bullet was safe to section, which I was told it was. I also did a vice-marked German 7.92 GMCS SS Ball bullet, but didn’t bother photographing this as it is not very interesting internally.

Can anyone tell me what the brown material at the inner end of the tracer cup is? It looks to me link it could be gutta percha (used as a space filler), as the .303 Tracer G Mk V was only designed to trace to 550 yards, but they may well have used the same tracer cup as the GII, but simply filled halfway with gutta percha. Also, what trace composition was used in these? These traced red, so I guess it included potassium?

I read an article a long time ago that said that strontium is used in red tracers and barium in green tracers. It was a printed article, don’t have it anymore, sorry.

Falcon–I think this tracer is actually a G IV/2 which was later redesignated as G Mark 6. A G Mark 5 had just one type of filler in the tracer cup. The bullet tip should be white as opposed the gray for the G Mark 5. The front half of the tracer cup is filled with bakelite in front of 5gr. of Tracer compound SR 390 and 6 gr. of SR 370 priming compound.

Nice job for your first attempt!

It certainly looks like a GIV/2 as Ron says, with the inert filling in the front end of the canister. Whether it is a GIV/2 or a GVI, the tip should be white as he says, but some look almost grey and some GVs look almost white.

There is a difference in length between the GIV/2 or GVI at 37mm and the GV at 36mm but given the relatively loose tolerances of wartime production this may not be discernable. Anyway, it is not a GV.


Well done Falcon.

I find what is inside a cartridge to be more interesting than anything else. My collecting interests have gradually shifted over the years to mostly acquiring specimens just to section. In my collection, sectioned specimens outnumber live rounds by 3 to 1!

Keep up the good work!


Nice job, Falcon.

Here’s a picture of a round I cut a couple of years ago.

The headstamp was K4 1943 GV and it had a grey tip.

It’s interesting to note the difference in the amount of inert filler and trace composition/igniter between the two projectiles.

Thanks Paul.
That is really odd, as the drawing for the GV shows a single filling with no mention of an inert filler. It is logical though as it was only a 550 yard trace.

I shall retract my statement that Falcon’s bullet is not a GV and stand bowed!


I have never sectioned anything myself, except for some empty 105 MM shell cases. I must say that the 2 pictured above are really beuatifull and well done. Sectioned rounds are becoming a favorite of mine as I learn more and more about this collection interest. It is nice seeing how things are manufactured. Some of these sectioned rounds are truely artistic. You guys did a geat job as they both look museaum quality, at least to me :-)

No matter what mark it is, it still shows the basic construction of a .303 tracer bullet.

Cheers APFSDS - That .303 Tracer was only my second ever go at sectioning a projectile. I did my first case (also a .303) today.

It is awesome! Hope you send pics of your 2nd! It is really amazing what goes into a projectile and case. Some of them are so complex with so many components. Just be carefull, duh.

@ APFSDS - I will post pics of all of them. Yesterday I did German WW2 7.92x57 SS Type ball and .303 Tracer projectiles. Today I did an Italian Brass jacketed 9mm projectile and a complete .303 Projectile and case.

@ AKMS - Do you leave the headstamps intact or cut along the whole round? Leaving the headstamps intact also eliminates the need to cut through the primer, meaning you don’t have to inert it.

I am not sectioning my .50 Vickers or 15mm BESA round anytime soon! Sooner leave the rarer stuff whole. I think the next ones I will do will be 7.62x51 NATO and .38 Special - I have loads of cases and projectiles I can spare in those calibres. I have now found that sectioning is an ideal use for projectiles that have been pulled using vices and pliers etc. Rounds with holes drilled in the case head for keyrings would also be good candidates.

Paul–Like Tony E, I am surprised. Every reference I have indicates that the G Mark V had 20gr. of tracer compound with no inert filler. This would not leave any room for any inert filler. I wonder if this is a case of the factory using up left over G Mark V cases on early G Mark VI production or maybe someone used the wrong headstamp bunter. The marking G VI was used before changing to G 6 and during the change over from the G V, it would have been possible that both bunters were on hand. Both the G Mark V and G Mark 6 were produced in 1943. It would be nice to see a 1941 or 1942 G Mark V sectioned to see what the bullet construction was.

Paul–I have been studying the drawings in the book “.303 Inch” by Labbett and Mead and if you look at the position of the cannelure in relation to the bakelite filler, your bullet most closely resembles the F.11101 Dual Purpose Tracer (Fig. 169, Pg. 96) rather than the G IV/2 or G 6. However, it says this bullet was a Feb. 1942 experiment and were loaded into unheadstamped cases. I wonder if yours was loaded with left over bullets from this experiment. We still need to see another G V sectioned to see if yours was a fluke or the norm.

Interesting theory Ron.

The earliest examples I have are: GIV 1941, GV 1941 and GVI 1942. It is not unheard of that cases have the wrong headstamp/bullet combination during wartime. I have a Kynoch GII complete with red annulus that has a WI AP headstamp.

I also have a Kynoch drawing dated December 1941 entitiled “.303 GII/GIV Tracer Bullet [GVI]” and another called “.303 Dual Purpose Flame Tracer bullet” dated April 1942. Both show a paper cylinder as the inert filler at the top of the tracer canister, although the trace elements are slightly different in the two drawings.

The fact that it is headstamped as a GV and also has a GV grey tip suggests it is a GV but that construction is still all wrong.



Our posts obviously crossed. That is the “Dual Purpose” tracer of which I have a drawing. (I nearly split an infinitive there!)


Tony–The functioning of the two types of tracer would have been simuliar. Could it be that someone said “Hey, look, we have a box of these older projectile. If we paint the tips gray, who will ever know” rather than discard them?

I guess that is always a possibility.


This was not pulled from an inert or live round, it was found in a box of loose projectiles. I sectioned it as someone had used pliers to pull it in the past, leaving it externally damaged. I only thought I saw minute traces of grey or white paint on this, it could have just been corrosion or dirt, as it was quite corroded externally when I got it. But the 550 as opposed to 1000 yard tracer would make sense to have used the same tracer cup as the 1000 yard GII, only filled halfway with inert bakelite filler. I take it this tracer burned red, as normal with British tracers. is this correct?

Does anybody know why Falcon’s and Paul’s projectiles have bakelite fillers of different length? These should be basically two different ones or?

Sorry that I can’t offer any insight to the mystery. I’ve not spent much time studying the .303.

Here’s a picture of a light grey/white tipped GV that was headstamped K4 44 GV. It is practically identical to the previous round with the exception of not having the inert filler in the trace canister.